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Is Ukraine a Problem for America to Solve?

Last week the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the “Implications of the Crisis in Ukraine.” Featuring the testimony of two high-ranking State Department officials followed by that of former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, it was a largely dispiriting affair. The opening statements from Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and Deputy Assistant Secretary for  Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Melia featured the by now standard declarations of “support for the aspirations of all Ukrainian citizens” and assurances that the “U.S. stands with the Ukrainian people in solidarity in their struggle for fundamental human rights.”

Of the two, Melia went furthest (Nuland, a former State Department spokesperson, was marginally more nuanced), stating that the committee’s attention to Ukraine was warranted not only because it lay “at the center of Europe” but because it was also a “valued” and “important” partner to the United States. If those assertions didn’t raise eyebrows, then the dollar figures he cited certainly should have.

According to Melia, since the dissolution of the USSR in December 1991, the U.S. has spent—the term of art Melia used was “invested”—over $5 billion on assistance to Ukraine, $815 million of which went towards funding democracy and exchange programs. Further, since 2009 the Obama administration has funneled $184 million to programs ostensibly aimed at supporting civil society, human rights, good governance, and the rule of law in Ukraine.

Taken together, the testimony of Nuland and Melia seem to rest on a number of questionable assumptions:

The Q&A portion of the hearing left little doubt that these assumptions are shared by committee chairman Robert Menendez, ranking member Sen. Bob Corker, and not surprisingly, Sens. Chris Murphy and John McCain, fresh off their recent trip to Kiev.

The less said about McCain’s questions, the better. After asserting that Ukraine “is a country that wants to be European, not Russian” and that the Ukrainian people “cry out for our assistance,” he went on, in a bizarre aside, to mention not once, but twice, that Russia was “embargoing” supplies of chocolate to Ukraine. It was that chocolate embargo that really seemed to stoke his outrage.

For their part, Menendez and Corker stayed more on point. Menendez threatened sanctions against the Yanukovych regime and was incredulous as to why the administration hadn’t already filed a complaint against Russia in the WTO. Corker’s first order of business was to scold the State Department for not adding names to the Magnitsky list, which, he said, it was supposed to do “under law.” Yet he made clear that he concurred with the witnesses’ views that “Ukraine is an incredibly important country” and the outcome of the current crisis “could be the thing that shapes policy inside Russia itself.”

At no point was there any evidence, either in the senators’ questions or in the respondents’ answers, that any thought had been given to whether it was at all appropriate for the U.S. government to get ever more deeply involved in the political life of a sovereign state halfway around the globe. No doubts were expressed over whether the choices that a democratically elected government makes with regard to its trading partners, elections, and security are the proper objects of American scrutiny. As Princeton emeritus professor Stephen F. Cohen has trenchantly noted [1], “It is not democratic to overthrow a democratically elected government. It’s the opposite of that.”

Nor was there any recognition that Ukraine is deeply and almost evenly divided between Ukraine’s westernizers in the urban centers such as Kiev and Lviv, and the Russophiles in the South and East, never mind the fact that Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus all have common roots which trace back to the Kievan Rus in the 9th century.

Zbigniew Brzezinski followed Nuland and Melia and for the most part shared the prevailing view of the hearing, particularly the idea—call it Democratic Domino Theory—that Ukraine’s integration with the West would (somehow) lead Russia to follow a similar path. Yet while overstating Ukraine’s strategic importance, Brzezinski did draw the committee’s attention to the lessons Ukrainian Westernizers might take from the experiences of Poland’s Solidarity movement of the 1980s.

Solidarity’s distinguishing characteristic was that it was a “national movement for independence which became institutionalized.” So while it was somewhat like Maidan, the key difference was that the opposition in Poland coalesced around the popular figure of Lech Walesa, who gradually “forced the ruling Communist regime to negotiate” a path to free elections that set Poland on the path to where it is today: a NATO member in good standing and a leading voice within the EU.

If the Ukrainian opposition is to succeed, then, it would be well advised to follow the example of the Solidarity movement—as Brzezinski suggests—and put quite a bit less hope in the fulsome rhetoric of the American political class that was in abundant supply at last week’s hearing.

James Carden served as an advisor to the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission at the State Department from 2011-2012.

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40 Comments To "Is Ukraine a Problem for America to Solve?"

#1 Comment By philadlephialawyer On January 24, 2014 @ 5:18 pm

“Solidarity’s distinguishing characteristic was that it was a ‘national movement for independence which became institutionalized.’ So while it was somewhat like Maidan, the key difference was that the opposition in Poland coalesced around the popular figure of Lech Walesa, who gradually ‘forced the ruling Communist regime to negotiate’ a path to free elections that set Poland on the path to where it is today: a NATO member in good standing and a leading voice within the EU.

“If the Ukrainian opposition is to succeed, then, it would be well advised to follow the example of the Solidarity movement—as Brzezinski suggests—and put quite a bit less hope in the fulsome rhetoric of the American political class that was in abundant supply at last week’s hearing.”

There are some other pretty big differences between Solidarity and Maiden besides the overreliance of the latter on the USA and the West generally. Firstly, as Professor Cohen is quoted as saying, there have already been elections in Ukraine, unlike Poland in the 1980’s. The parliament and the president of Ukraine ARE elected. So, it is absurd to speak of the protestors as even having as a goal the “forcing” of the government to hold “free elections.” Such elections have already been held, and as the Professor mentions in the linked article, another elections is scheduled for next year.

The protestors simply want their way. On the issue of the trade treaty, yes, but also on removing the elected government. “Democracy” and “free elections” have nothing to do with their agenda.

Another important difference is that Poland enjoys something like cultural homogeneity, unlike the Ukraine. Solidarity was an expression of the more or less universally agreed upon Polish nationalism. And it fought, as mentioned, for Polish independence from the USSR. Maiden, on the other hand, is more the expression of one half of what the citizens of Ukraine consider to be “their” national culture and identity. Ukraine, which is already independent, as it now exists, with its current borders, is profoundly divided, to simplify, between Western Ukrainian nationalists who support the opposition parties and the Maiden protests, want to join the EU, and probably NATO too, and the Russian Ukrainians who look more to the East, to Russia, and who also feel that they are in danger of being oppressed and having their identities suppressed by the Western nationalists. These folks tend to support the government and current president.

And it is highly doubtful that any Lech Walesa type figure is going to come along and somehow unite the country, nor that any one political party or movement, much less Maiden, which is clearly associated with one “side” only, is going to do so either.

So, while it is certainly true that the USA has interfered far too much already in the Ukraine, and that the opposition should stop looking for the West to do its work for it, and start organizing for next year’s election instead, the notion of Maiden EVER being anything like Solidarity, or of a real Ukrainian version of Lech Walesa ever arising, is a misplaced one. Poland in the Eighties and Ukraine today are totally different situations.

#2 Comment By Bob Wilcox On January 24, 2014 @ 8:51 pm

Why on earth is John McCain such a Russophobe? It doesn’t matter whether it’s Syria, Ukraine, Chechnya, Georgia (back in 2008), etc., you can always count on John McCain to support whoever the Russians don’t like. He was even willing to go to Kiev to support the demonstrations, where he shared a podium with Ukrainian neo-Nazis (Svoboda).

The USA sided with the Soviet Union in WWII in order to defeat Nazi Germany. John McCain, on the other hand, seems to think it’s okay to ally with modern-day Nazis as long as they’re anti-Russian. What gives?

#3 Comment By WorkingClass On January 24, 2014 @ 9:28 pm

The mutterings of these imperialists are increasingly irrelevant given the rapid decline of the American Empire. McCain and Brzezinski are fossils from a bygone era. I pray that the good people of Ukraine will resolve their differences without killing each other. Here in Louisiana we have troubles of our own.

#4 Comment By Mightypeon On January 24, 2014 @ 9:51 pm

The best thing that could happen to Ukraine is a clever proto-strongman that succesfully plays the EU against Russia gaining concessions from btoh.

This is actually what Yanukovich tried to do, but he only got concessions from Russia, while the West basically told him to go bugger himself.

Simply put, accepting the EU treaty would:
-Greatly reduce the Ukrainian public sector, which tends to vote for Yanukovich
-Kill Eastern Ukrainian industry by forcing it to compete with f.e. German industries under regulations which the Germans designed. East Ukrainians industry also tends to vote for Yanukovich
-Create a huge brain drain towards the EU. Some estimates assume that as many as a quarte of Ukraine would move into the EU, leaving Ukraine without many of its most able minds
-Outsource national Ukrainian decision making to the EU. This is a big deal, national economic decision making was what made South Korea a rich country, and what allowed Japan INC. to rise. Ukraine would no longer have such an option
-Trigger a vicious response by Russia (which by the way shed an absurd amount of blood of Kiev), which would hurt especially Eastern Ukraine a lot.

To add to this, Yanukovich would have to liberate Timoshenko. One should bear in mind that the issue normal Ukrainians have with Timoshenko being in prison is not her being in prison, its her not having sufficent amounts of company from her “socio-economic strata”.

Yanukovich would have to be totally braindead to sign such an agreement.

#5 Comment By Jamie Estevez On January 25, 2014 @ 2:53 am

Anywhere you see the name of Zbigniew Brzezinski alongside the name of any of the former Soviet Republics you will find trouble. It has been Brzezinski’s lifelong goal to destroy Russia and any nation allied with close ties to Russia.

#6 Comment By Jamie Estevez On January 25, 2014 @ 2:54 am

I keep on hearing Westerners mostly Americans crying out for support of Ukrainian independence. Has anyone told them that the Ukraine has been a free and independent state since 1991 and that the Soviet Union no longer exists.

#7 Comment By Mightypeon On January 25, 2014 @ 6:38 am

Edit: I meant that the Soviets shed an absurd amount of blood for Kiev.

#8 Comment By Wes On January 25, 2014 @ 8:28 am

“No doubts were expressed over whether the choices that a democratically elected government makes with regard to its trading partners, elections, and security are the proper objects of American scrutiny. As Princeton emeritus professor Stephen F. Cohen has trenchantly noted, “It is not democratic to overthrow a democratically elected government. It’s the opposite of that.”

But Ukraine isn’t a LIBERAL democracy. And it is democratic to overthrow a democratically elected government if it becomes tyrannical, as the Ukrainian government has. That’s what we in the United States did. Well we didn’t actually overthrow the British government, but we did launch a revolution against the Mother country.

“Russia, by offering the Ukrainian government a more attractive bailout package than that proposed by the EU and IMF, was acting in bad faith.”

Russia did act in bad faith. Putin threatened punitive actions against Ukraine if Yanukovych didn’t scrap the trade deal with the EU in favor of a trade deal with Russia. Now Yanukovych has long been allied with Putin and probably didn’t need much convincing to scrap the EU trade deal. But no matter why Yanukovych scrapped the trade deal, Ukrainians had every right and even duty to protest. And the Yanukovych regime had no right to repress the protests as it has.

[2]

[3]

#9 Comment By PermReader On January 25, 2014 @ 9:31 am

Bolsheviks in 1917 were not “A problem for America to solve”.

#10 Comment By Johann On January 25, 2014 @ 9:53 am

McCain and the other neocons love to use Nazi analogies like the “Munich moment”. Since there is a significant extreme nationalist and anti-semitic element in the Ukrainian protest movement, someone should come up with a Nazi analogy against McCain and the other neocons. Give them some of their own medicine. How about the Beer Hall Putsch?

I realize there are plenty of more moderate Ukrainians in the protest, so please don’t take offense. Its not my intent to paint them all with a broad brush.

#11 Comment By Matt D. On January 25, 2014 @ 9:56 am

Typo: “Maidan Square” is not where the protests are being held. The author intended to write “Independence Square”.

“maidan” = “square” in Ukranian

#12 Comment By Independent Texan On January 25, 2014 @ 10:35 am

Americans should hope that Ukrainians peacefully decide their own fate, without unnecessary meddling from ANY outside countries (Russia, USA, whatever).

Having visited Poland not long ago, there is no doubt in my mind that closer ties with the EU will be, in the long run, beneficial to the majority of Ukrainians. But those ties must arise out of a mutual decision between Ukraine and the EU to work together more closely … not from American pressure intended to counterbalance perceived undue influence from Moscow.

Neocons need to learn that we aren’t in charge of the world …. we just live in it, hopefully peacefully with others. When we are threatened, we should aggressively defend our interests. But here I see no threat to critical US interests.

I wish the Ukrainian people well.

#13 Comment By James marshall On January 25, 2014 @ 11:56 am

How long is the US government going to pretend it’s not actually the covert (increasingly overt) aggressor and provocateur of such violence?

The same was done in once before in Ukraine and in Yugoslavia, Libya and Syria, etc. The US government chooses a place it wants to control, a leader to oust, creates mayhem, and then offers NATO as the solution to that mayhem and to stop the suffering that the US government causes in the first place. I don’t know how many are fooled by it anymore.

#14 Comment By Louis On January 25, 2014 @ 1:06 pm

By the way isn’t the U.S. the problem in Ukraine?

#15 Comment By Danram On January 25, 2014 @ 1:32 pm

Aside from the fact that, in my opinion, we have a moral obligation to help 46 million people who want to build a better country for themselves free from oppression and corruption, I think it’s most definitely in the United States’ interest not to allow Vladimir Putin to reconstitute the Soviet Union, which is exactly what he wants to do.

#16 Comment By philadlephialawyer On January 25, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

Wes”

“But Ukraine isn’t a LIBERAL democracy. And it is democratic to overthrow a democratically elected government if it becomes tyrannical, as the Ukrainian government has. That’s what we in the United States did. Well we didn’t actually overthrow the British government, but we did launch a revolution against the Mother country.”

First of all, your historical analogy is all wet. The British Empire in 1776 was not a democracy that had become tyrannical, it was not a democracy at all. It was a limited monarchy, with a parliament in which Americans had no representation at all.

Ukraine, by contrast, has had elections determined to be free and fair, on balance. The folks protesting in the street have seats in parliament, as well as control over various regional and local governments.

And a presidential election is scheduled for February 2015 and for one parliament no later than 2017.

And, frankly, I find the charge of “tyranny” to be absolutely ridiculous. “Tyrants” don’t tolerate endless disorderly protests that included blocking streets, occupying government buildings, destroying public property and fighting with the police. A real “tyrant” would have crushed the “demonstrations” weeks, if not months, ago.

The protestors simply haven’t gotten their way on a policy issue within the government’s right to decide, ie the trade treaty with the EU. Beyond that, they seek an extra constitutional, extra legal, non electoral and non democratic overthrow of the government. In other word, a coup.

“Russia did act in bad faith. Putin threatened punitive actions against Ukraine if Yanukovych didn’t scrap the trade deal with the EU in favor of a trade deal with Russia. Now Yanukovych has long been allied with Putin and probably didn’t need much convincing to scrap the EU trade deal. But no matter why Yanukovych scrapped the trade deal, Ukrainians had every right and even duty to protest. And the Yanukovych regime had no right to repress the protests as it has.”

In other words, Russia refused to continue to bankroll the Ukraine with cheap energy and cheap loans if it signed a deal with the EU inimical to Russia’s interests. That is the “meddling” and “threat of punitive action”: NOT continuing to subsidize Ukraine. Both the EU and Russia offer the Ukraine both carrots and sticks, but the EU doing so completely OK, while the Russians doing it “meddling.” Please.

Next, the government, which, as you say, everyone knew would be pro Russian and anti EU before it was elected, actually has every right in the world to reject the treaty. And while citizens have a right to protest that decision, they don’t have the “right” to block traffic, occupy buildings, resort to violence, etc. As for the alleged “repression,” try doing what the protestors are doing in Washington, DC, and let me know how far you get.

On your links, the first one, from Bloomberg, admits that the “protestors” are now “rioters.” Rioters being met with force is hardly a scandal. The second link is simply a propaganda screed by a partisan; the publication it appears in disavows all responsibility for its content.

Danram:

“Aside from the fact that, in my opinion, we have a moral obligation to help 46 million people who want to build a better country for themselves free from oppression and corruption….”

Nowhere near “46 million people” support the protests, or the opposition generally. The country is divided right down the middle, and the efforts of those favoring the protests to pretend otherwise display a grotesque ethnic bias. The more than twenty million Ukrainian citizens who don’t support the protests, the opposition, or the trade treaty are reduced to non entities, to non humans, to non persons, by this persistent lie.

There is no “moral obligation” whatsoever to “support” anti democratic rioters who seek a coup.

As for “oppression and corruption,” the current government hardly invented them in Ukraine. And putting the opposition in power would hardly mean their end.

“…I think it’s most definitely in the United States’ interest not to allow Vladimir Putin to reconstitute the Soviet Union, which is exactly what he wants to do.”

Irrespective of what Putin wants, the notion that he might succeed in “restoring” the USSR is preposterous, and basing policy on the threat of it happening is absurd. Russia is weak. Demographically, economically, sociologically, even militarily. A society with no credibility as a model. A country that leads the world in what? Prostitution? Alcoholism?

#17 Comment By Wes On January 26, 2014 @ 3:44 am

philadelphialawyer:

There are different levels of tyrants. Mubarak didn’t crush the demonstrations in Tahir Square either, but he did repress them. Do you know what can happen to tyrants who do try to crush peaceful demonstrations? Ask Assad or even better, Qaddafi (if you can find an entrance to Hell). The protesters didn’t become rioters until the security forces and state-funded plain clothes thugs started beating them. Yes, the folks protesting in the streets have seats in Parliament, but Parliament is controlled by Yanukovych’s party and it recently passed a law that greatly limited the freedoms of speech and assembly.

You wrote this: “In other words, Russia refused to continue to bankroll the Ukraine with cheap energy and cheap loans if it signed a deal with the EU inimical to Russia’s interests.”

Well it’s Russia’s fault if it still views itself as a geopolitical competitor to the U.S. and the EU. That’s why many Ukrainians want to establish a closer relationship with the EU and the U.S. and move away from Russia. Putin probably won’t be able to restore the Soviet Union, but he does still view former Soviet republics like Ukraine to be part of Russia’s sphere of influence. And Putin has long tried to use natural gas as a geopolitical weapon.

#18 Comment By Konstantin On January 26, 2014 @ 6:38 am

As I understood the majority of the American citizens don’t possess full information on a situation in Ukraine. 20 years Russia subsidizes Ukraine at the expense of the citizens and it is interesting to you why in 1917 after capture by Bolsheviks of Russia the unitary state was divided into the national republics for strengthening of Ukraine the Russian areas are included, the Crimea is also transferred further where Russians lived only, for the majority of analysts situation forcing in this country looks as a fire under a hydrogen bomb, and support of movements which conduct race for power under nazi slogans this crime against humanity.

#19 Comment By Вячеслав On January 26, 2014 @ 7:25 am

Who told you that you cann’t solve other people’s problems?. Experience shows that the U.S. can only spoil everything!.

#20 Comment By rus_programmer On January 26, 2014 @ 7:57 am

This is one adequate article, thanks. Unfortunately she will drown in a stream of nonsense that shape public opinion.

#21 Comment By EliteCommInc. On January 26, 2014 @ 12:43 pm

“That’s what we in the United States did. Well we didn’t actually overthrow the British government, but we did launch a revolution against the Mother country.”

Given the reality instead of the pervasive history lessons pounded into the heads of US citizens from kindergarten forward —

A revolution in the Ukraine is just as unwarranted as the revolution by the colonists. I think it’s in our interests to discourage revolution.

But it would seem that we have yet to gain a full grasp of manipulating revolutionary spring events despite the spring having yielded more political wasteland than roses.

#22 Comment By Bill Jones On January 26, 2014 @ 6:49 pm

I have never understood why any country on the planet allows a plane containing the likes of Insane McCain or Little Linda Graham to land.

#23 Comment By J On January 27, 2014 @ 12:42 am

The present protests are likely the beginning of an east-west ethnic partitioning of Ukraine. The western/northern half is going to need and ask for a lot of economic help from the EU and the U.S. The eastern half will with certainty join Russia.

Washington is merely doing what it does best, which is dither with great solemnity while regurgitating and reiterating pieties.

#24 Comment By sglover On January 27, 2014 @ 2:25 am

Danram hallucinates:

I think it’s most definitely in the United States’ interest not to allow Vladimir Putin to reconstitute the Soviet Union, which is exactly what he wants to do.

**Many** people in the former USSR would like to reconstitute it. **Many** people, particularly older people, had a better life then, and are nostalgic for the old days. Americans have little or no idea what the post-dissolution period was like for most people who lived through it.

But wishing doesn’t make it so. The USSR is gone for good. Hysterics like McCain would do well to explain why Georgia, which actually lost a war to Russia,, somehow evaded Putin’s megalomania, and is still a sovreign state. Real Putin, non-cartoon Putin, has his hands full keeping Russia more or less steady.

Sorry, but your statement shows that you really know nothing about the region. You would do very well to read up on it, making sure to avoid the most prominent American sources, e.g., the NY Times, the WaPo, etc.

(Do the broadcast networks even talk about Ukraine? That would cut into their celebrity coverage, which is pretty much the extent of their competence.)

#25 Comment By philadelphialawyer On January 27, 2014 @ 11:06 am

Wes:

“There are different levels of tyrants. Mubarak didn’t crush the demonstrations in Tahir Square either, but he did repress them. Do you know what can happen to tyrants who do try to crush peaceful demonstrations? Ask Assad or even better, Qaddafi…”

Please. All of those governments were much tougher on the “demonstrators” than that of the Ukraine has been. While the protestors in Kiev have been more disorderly than those in Egypt from the start. And Assad and Gaddafi did eventually use force against the “protestors,” when they turned to violence. In any event, none of the folks you mention were elected leaders. None of those countries had anything like the freedoms, the parliament, and so on that Ukraine has.

“The protesters didn’t become rioters until the security forces and state-funded plain clothes thugs started beating them.”

They were disorderly from the start, blocking traffic, occupying buildings and destroying property. Again, try that in DC and let me know what happens.

“Yes, the folks protesting in the streets have seats in Parliament, but Parliament is controlled by Yanukovych’s party and it recently passed a law that greatly limited the freedoms of speech and assembly.”

Parliament is “controlled” by that party because it won the election. As for the recently passed laws, perhaps the endless, lawless, coup favoring, and now violent, “demonstrations” have something to do with that.

“Well it’s Russia’s fault if it still views itself as a geopolitical competitor to the U.S. and the EU. That’s why many Ukrainians want to establish a closer relationship with the EU and the U.S. and move away from Russia. Putin probably won’t be able to restore the Soviet Union, but he does still view former Soviet republics like Ukraine to be part of Russia’s sphere of influence. And Putin has long tried to use natural gas as a geopolitical weapon.”

In other words, the whole world belongs to the EU and the USA, and everyone else should just accept that. Tactics that the EU (and the USA) use to bring countries into its orbit are forbidden to Russia because…..you say so? When the EU uses economic subsidies as carrot and a stick, you have nothing to say about it, but when Russia does, it is “weaponizing” them. The hypocrisy here knows no bounds.

And, perhaps, Russia considers itself a “competitor” of the West because the West has relentlessly expanded its anti-Russian military alliance right up to Russia’s borders, and appears to be trying to encircle it. Even though the Cold War has ended, Russia does not pose any “Red Menace” to anyone, its military has degraded, and it has lost not only its empire, but territory long considered “Russian.”

And, once again, it is only one faction of Ukrainians who want the treaty, want closer relations to the EU, and so forth. A faction that comprises about half the country. The other faction favors closer ties to Russia. As does the governing party, which was known before it was elected. But those facts are hidden by your use of the weasel words “many Ukrainians want…” Many do, but as many don’t.

#26 Comment By Rossbach On January 27, 2014 @ 11:29 am

The US government has no moral obligation to do anything in the Ukraine. We should devote our government’s efforts to solving problems right here at home such as unemployment, declining real wages, and a staggering national debt, not forcing “solutions” on other countries. We have sacrificed the lives of 1.5 million American servicemen since 1917 trying (and failing) to make the world a “better” place. Let’s concentrate on making America a better place.

#27 Comment By Observer On January 27, 2014 @ 12:02 pm

In other words, we don’t care, throw Ukraine to Putin’s feet. Munich 1938 all over again. Actually, Ukrainian don’t expect anything from the West but another betrayal. And as an indirect proof of it, the disappearance of the EU flags among the protesters.
You are absolutely misread what’s going on in Ukraine now. It is no longer about joining the West. It is about refusing to live under the yoke of the mafia and in the future under the yoke of Moscow. Your Western/Eastern Ukraine “analysis” is totally bogus. This is why in Kiev – and now in most of the Ukrainian cities – you can see people of different ethnic origin on the barricades: Ukrainians, Russians, Jews and others. And the other side is represented by the death squads paid for by the mafia thugs in power.
You are misreading history one again. And as history teaches us, you will have to pay huge price in blood for the betrayal of the people who fight for their freedom and dignity

#28 Comment By Jeff Martin On January 27, 2014 @ 12:18 pm

Russia by no means considers itself a competitor to the United States. Even were we to reckon in the body count of the Second Chechen War, the body count of the American Empire, post Cold War, is an order of magnitude higher, factoring in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and shock therapy in the FSU. Corrupt though he is, Putin is not even playing the same game.

#29 Comment By wycoff On January 27, 2014 @ 12:50 pm

PermReader says:

January 25, 2014 at 9:31 am

Bolsheviks in 1917 were not “A problem for America to solve”.

As discussed in another recent article here at AC, maybe if the US hadn’t decided to “Make the World Safe for Democracy” in 1917 & 1918, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk would have been upheld and western Ukraine would by now have been part of Western Europe for almost a century (without the intervening successive starvations and massacres at the hands of the Soviets and Nazis.)

I think that the best solution would be to split the Ukraine and for the Russian majority portions in the east and south to rejoin Russia. However, my opinion doesn’t matter. There’s no more that the US can do at this point. The destiny of the Ukraine is for the Ukrainians to decide.

#30 Comment By Philo Vaihinger On January 27, 2014 @ 3:23 pm

“Is Ukraine a Problem for America to Solve?”

No.

#31 Comment By Konstantin On January 27, 2014 @ 4:47 pm

The USA and the European Union don’t offer cooperation but only demand from Russia of unilateral concessions for Russia, pushing Russia in an abyss, sooner or later will work effect of “the Weimar Germany” created 2 world war. In spite of the fact that many Americans believe that armed forces of Russia degraded, but Russia still the only country which is able to destroy the USA within 1 hour.

#32 Comment By me On January 27, 2014 @ 5:35 pm

I took the liberty to post Ukrainian appeal for help: [4]

#33 Comment By Wes On January 27, 2014 @ 6:21 pm

Philadelphialawyer, you wrote this: “While the protestors in Kiev have been more disorderly than those in Egypt from the start.”

I’m not sure that this is true. Protests in both countries began peacefully. But sexual assault of women became relatively common at the protests in Egypt, but I doubt the same will happen at the protests in the Ukraine.

“And Assad and Gaddafi did eventually use force against the “protestors,” when they turned to violence.”

Oh, are you trying to tell me that Assad and Qaddafi were just innocent victims trying to defend themselves against “terrorists”? That’s just a bunch of B.S.

“As for the recently passed laws, perhaps the endless, lawless, coup favoring, and now violent, “demonstrations” have something to do with that.”

The Ukrainian government has failed if it has to greatly restrict freedom in order to try end protests, whether peaceful or otherwise. Knowing your politics, I can guess that you probably believe that the USA PATRIOT Act, including the NSA surveillance,is an act of unjustified and inexcusable tyranny on the part of our own government. So who really is the hypocrite? All of you Blame America Firsters are the same, whether left or right.

#34 Comment By philadlephialawyer On January 27, 2014 @ 7:15 pm

“Observer,” maybe you don’t realize it, but when people start throwing out that “Munich 1938” stuff, a lot of folks on this website, and elsewhere, take that as a sign that you have run out of real arguments.

More generally, again and again on these threads about the Ukraine, we see folks posting what amounts to simple, simplistic, one sided propaganda for the protestors/opposition. In many, indeed most, parts of the Western media, these partisan claims are accepted without question.

The anti government forces have, over the years, as the article above makes clear, received close to a billion dollars from the US alone (that’s what “funding democracy” means). And they use that money, our money, to produce slick videos like the one linked to by the poster “me” above. And the opposition also receives training, again, paid for Western tax money, including US tax money, specifically on how to influence the Western media so as to get them to report their views verbatim and to accept all of their claims without question.

Our own tax dollars are funneled through the fake “democracy” promoting organizations to the Ukrainian opposition, and then it turns around and uses that money, plus the training that those organizations also provide, to influence our media, our people, and, ultimately, our government to take its side in an internal, partisan political dispute in the Ukraine.

And, in so doing, they make those in the Ukraine who don’t agree with them disappear. Take “Observer’s” claims…to hear him tell it, everyone in the Ukraine but the mafia, “death squads,” and paid thugs support the protests. But the most recent polling shows that a majority of Ukrainians don’t support the protests at all. And only a plurality of Ukrainians agree with the protestors about the underlying issue of the trade treaty. And we have also learned through threads on this board and linked articles, that one of the main opposition groups is composed of neo fascists who specifically take an ethnic cleansing view of their Russian and Jewish fellow citizens. But, again, to hear “Observer” tell it, the protestors are all about “We are the world.”

The US, as the most powerful country in the world, is subject to intense lobbying by various groups wishing to embroil it in foreign disputes. It is no secret that the Israeli government, and its supporters in the USA, have presented, over the decades, a grossly distorted picture of Israeli-Arab relations in general, and of Israeli-Palestinian relations in particular.

These folks from the Ukrainian opposition and their supporters in the USA are seeking to do something similar. To blitz the US media with propaganda so as to sway the feelings of American and prod them into demanding that their government intervene. And they have mostly been quite successful.

Indeed, what can almost sense the shock of posters from the Ukrainian opposition when they recognize that their claims do not get the unanimous consent that they do, without the slightest bit of evidentiary support, from most of the US media, on this website. Hence the spiraling rhetoric, the ever more shrill cries of “betrayal,” of “Munich,” and so on.

#35 Comment By philadlephialawyer On January 27, 2014 @ 7:30 pm

Wes:

“I’m not sure that this is true. Protests in both countries began peacefully. But sexual assault of women became relatively common at the protests in Egypt, but I doubt the same will happen at the protests in the Ukraine.”

The protests in Egypt were mainly confined to one square, with no occupation of government buildings and no destruction of government property. The sexual assault claim is a red herring. The protests in Egypt were generally peaceful. That a few protestors took the opportunity to assault some women is not the same thing as organized protestors day after day blocking traffic, conducting “sit ins” in government buildings and so on.

“Oh, are you trying to tell me that Assad and Qaddafi were just innocent victims trying to defend themselves against ‘terrorists?’ That’s just a bunch of B.S.”

Not “innocent victims,” no. But they were attempting to defend their regimes from armed rebels. Some of whom were and are indeed “terrorists.” Of course, those two gentlemen were not the heads of elected governments, as is the president of the Ukraine.

“The Ukrainian government has failed if it has to greatly restrict freedom in order to try end protests, whether peaceful or otherwise. Knowing your politics, I can guess that you probably believe that the USA PATRIOT Act, including the NSA surveillance,is an act of unjustified and inexcusable tyranny on the part of our own government. So who really is the hypocrite? All of you Blame America Firsters are the same, whether left or right.”

The point isn’t what I personally think of the Patriot Act, etc. The point is that all or most governments in the world would not put up with endless protests that cross the line into lawlessness, much less violence. In New York City, completely peaceful, non violent protestors, who were calling not for a coup but simply for better laws, were NOT allowed to indefinitely “occupy” one, single, city park. Never mind take over buildings, topple statues, block traffic, and so on. That point does not depend on my politics, but on the standard you wish to impose on the Ukrainian government. And that is a double standard.

Really, what government in the world would bow in the face of “protests” that you yourself admit have now become “other” than peaceful? All governments “resort” to restricting “freedom” in such circumstances. And, moreover, it is actually quite defensible for democratically elected governments to do so. “Freedom” is for legitimate political protestors, not for violent revolutionaries. Here in the USA, we fought a four year war against armed rebels, and killed hundreds of thousands of them, and destroyed their property, and, indeed, their entire society.

The “blame America first” stuff is just ludicrous. I want America, my country, to stay out of Ukrainian internal disputes. I am not “blaming” American for anything. But you are blaming it for not coming to the aid of the faction you prefer in the Ukraine.

#36 Comment By Gazza On January 30, 2014 @ 5:28 am

Wes, you owe philadelphialawyer your gratitude and heartfelt thanks. He has graciously taken it upon him(her)self to provide you with an education in basic civics and political science, as well as attempting to open your eyes and realise that the world we inhabit is not a monochromatic simplistic place dominated by a stereotypical Good Vs Evil morality play. It is a complex place, a varied landscape of differing attitudes and outlooks, cultural differences, alternative viewpoints and conflicting agendas.

Try to overcome your obvious narrow-minded hatred of all-things Russian, and see the world the way it really is. If possible, try to travel and see the world, and experience how different peoples live. Remember that ignorance is NOT a virtue,

#37 Comment By burton50 On January 30, 2014 @ 2:37 pm

Konstantin:
You are wrong. Most Americans have NO knowledge about the Ukraine, it’s recent history (including the annexations under the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement), and the current events. You will of course have noted that 90% of the commentaries here are on the level of Spartak vs. Dinamo. Not one of the commentators (except perhaps philadelphialawyer) has actually taken the time to go through the agreement — almost 1,000 pages– that Yanukovich was supposed to sign — and the available text lacks the military protocols regarding NATO that were also part of the larger negotiations. It’s no wonder that the EU and the “amerikantsy” are out of sorts: this gambit failed because the deal was manifestly grossly unfair to Ukrainian citizens. Konstantin, calm down. Vladimir Vladimirovich, despite all the “bol’tuny” in Western press, is turning out to be quite the statesman: over here we don’t like his methods, but then we think “everyone should be like us,” which is, of course, nonsensical. As P.A. Stolypin once said, Russia needs 20 years of stability to consolidate its situation, well, maybe perhaps 30, no? One other point, Krym was once the home to the Crimean Tatars, yes? What happened to them? Lastly: to destroy the USA in an hour, well, OK, but I think not much will be left “u vas” afterwards. Better that Gazprom just turns off the gas to the EU. The effect, I think, might be similar without all the radiation.

#38 Comment By Michael Allan On February 3, 2014 @ 9:52 pm

Citing the Rus origins of Russia and the Ukraine, Mr. Carden appears to brush over an ethnic religious identity issue which lies at the heart of the problem. Russia and Orthodoxy have competed with the western oriented Polish-Lithuanian Roman Catholic influence in the Ukraine for centuries. Each has dominated in its turn. The Russian oriented faction currently controls the political, economic, and military apparatus. This is a violent seesaw which has been playing since the 1500s. Is the Ukraine’s orientation in US interests? Perhaps, but it is more Europe’s game. Unfortunately, Europe’s leaders seem as full of meaningless platitudes on the subject as do those of the US.

#39 Comment By Konstantin On February 4, 2014 @ 6:57 am

The Crimea and east areas were included in structure of Ukraine by Stalin and Hrushev without having on that the lawful bases, these territories belong to Russia to me as well as million other citizens unclear why the question of their return still isn’t raised.

#40 Comment By Mikhail On March 2, 2014 @ 8:26 am

In Ukraine there was a power capture by nazis and bandits, is exact as in Germany in 1933. That it cost only one statement of the leader of the Ukrainian nationalists Yarosh, asked the help at the international terrorist Doku Umarov!
It is a pity for good and kind people in Ukraine. Nazis in the power it is big trouble for any country. Keep Ukraine and you will be helped by God.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych supported the proposal Crimean authorities to Russian President Vladimir Putin for assistance and protection of the Autonomous Republic.

“… Keep treatment by the authorities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to the President of the Russian Federation on the provision of comprehensive care and protection Crimeans. Viktor Yanukovych, “- said in a statement the president, quoted by” Interfax “.